Rat Neurons In A Dish Now Playing Flight Simulator

In his excellent 1999 novel Starfish, science fiction writer Peter Watts wrote about "cultured brains on a slab" - a "head cheese" - that could pilot a plane as well as a person. Now, University of Florida scientist Dr. Thomas DeMarse has created a "brain in a dish" that can interact with a computer flight simulation.


(From Science Daily)

The "brain" is a small puddle of 25,000 living neurons taken from a rat's brain and cultured in a glass dish.

"It's essentially a dish with 60 electrodes arranged in a grid at the bottom," DeMarse said. "Over that we put the living cortical neurons from rats, which rapidly begin to reconnect themselves, forming a living neural network – a brain."
The individual neurons are distributed randomly at the beginning of the experiment, and are not connected. The aircraft simulation of an F-22 fighter jet feeds data into the grid about flight conditions; whether the plane is flying straight and level or not. The neurons begin to organize themselves, forming connections to each other. The neurons analyze the data and respond by sending signals to the plane's controls.

At first, the simulated plane drifts randomly. But the neural network slowly learns; currently, the brain can control the pitch and roll of the simulated craft in most weather conditions, including storms and hurricane-force winds.

DeMarse points out that, while computers have fast processing speeds, they can't approach the flexibility of the human brain. Certain kinds of computation, like recognizing a previously unseen piece of furniture as a table or a lamp, is difficult to program into a computer. Peter Watts points out this very same fact in his choice of living neurons as pilots:

Humans had always been able to integrate 3-D spatial information better than the machines that kept trying to replace them...

Until now, apparently...
(Read more from Starfish smart gels)

Read the original stories here and here. Read a short bio on Thomas DeMarse, Assistant Professor at the University of Florida's School of Biomedical Engineering.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/25/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 24 )

Related News Stories - (" Artificial Intelligence ")

Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.' - Isaac Asimov, 1953.

Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.

Clarke Was Right, Artificial Intelligences DO Dream
'Of course you will dream. No one knows why." - Arthur C. Clarke, 1984.

Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...' - William Tenn, 1951.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Personalized Masks Appear
'The tiger stripes on Jim's mask... made the young people easy to identify.'

Foiling Facial Recognition, Fighting Coaster Viruses, Harlan Ellison-Style
I have no mouth and I must scream.

Ford Uses Obedient Robot Dogs To Update Facilities Maps
'If he sent out two or three of the small tele-operated devices... [he] could see machinery and construction details in real time from both above and below.'

AirTouch Panels Means No More Dirty Touchscreens!
Useful interfaces now appear in thin air.

EllipticaRunner Robot Is Fast, Amazing, Slightly Worrisome
'THEY sent A SLAMHOUND on Turner's trail in New Delhi...'

SPECTER Electroshock Round Fireable From Shotgun
'...the balls sent by this gun are not ordinary balls, but little cases of glass.'

100 Terabyte Exadrive SSD Also Has Biggest Price
'A man could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres in a Schrön loop.'

Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.'

Feel Virtual Reality In Mid-Air!
'...a pressure on the lips - warm and soft, moist and sweet.'

Electric Lasso Gives Police Options
'The blast of silver threads enveloped her...'

TytoCare Offers Futuristic Home Care
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'

Powdered Regolith Propulsion
'... filling their great tanks with the finely divided dust which the ionic rockets would spit out in electrified jets.'

Ford's SafeCap, Opposite Of Niven and Barnes' Napcap
'In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master...'

Would You Get 'Chipped'? Michigan May Ban Employers
'Employees above a certain level were implanted with advanced microprocessors...'

Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.'

DNA Controls Swarms Of Molecular Robots
'They exist in loose swarms...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.